Radar on Mars

The above image comes from an ESA press release about radar imaging of subsurface structures on Mars. Basically, the top two “radargrams” somehow map onto the (very colorful) martian surface images below. On the one hand, I can understand why the writers of the press release might be loath to go into detail about the technique employed in going from the top image to the bottom, but I also wonder what people think when they see images like the rainbow-colored pair.

I mean, I look at the superimposed dark radar image and the superimposed dotted white lines—and they don’t even seem to coincide! The image doesn’t support the message.

In a case such as this, it strikes me as potentially helpful to show an image of a simplified situation. Show me the geometry of a crater, perhaps as a cutaway, then show me what an idealized radargram of that would look like. Put in context with actual data, such a cartoon often clarifies an otherwise confusing situation.

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